Saturday, March 10, 2012

Holi Hai! Ginger in Bombay Reporting

Thursday we celebrated Holi.  ASB had the day off and I was hosting a visiting consultant so my celebrating my first Holi in India was not only required as a hostess but also necessary as a first timer.

Holi, which is always celebrated on a full moon, celebrates the arrival of spring with a festival of colors.  The winter's gone so it's time to show spring's colors.  It also means people "loosening" of social norms when it comes to drinking and other behavior.  During Holi people toss/smear/spread colors on each other along with water and dance.  There's other things they do too which you can read about on your own here.

The days leading up to Holi, I'd received tips from my colleagues.  Some said, "Stay inside!"  Others, who realized I was go out to play regardless, suggested to slather my hair and skin with oil.  I did clarify which kind which makes a big difference in smell.  They warned me I'd be a target with my light skin and recently colored hair.
Gretchen, Janine (the visiting consultant) and I headed out early, around 8 a.m. We'd gotten tips to head toward a local fishing village nearby. We wore light colored tops so the colors of Holi would be seen.  Another warning we'd received told us to make sure to wear old bras and undies as those could be stained and also to wear a cami or choose your shirt wisely so you weren't revealing more than you wanted when you got wet.

We were out a bit too early as things in the village were very quiet but we managed to find sleeping pigs and piglets, a group of young women and children spreading colors and some mischievous boys tossing grocery-sized plastic bags of water.  I got soaked.

After that, we headed for a cup of coffee in the market.  As soon as we stepped out of the rickshaw, there were kids playing.  They asked if they could add color, which they did but we moved quickly as you could tell they were excited to add more.  The coffee shop had it's door partially shuttered to keep out the Holi players.

After coffee, met up with friends from ASB to attend a colleague, Payal's, apartment complex Holi celebration.   A safe and fun place to spread color, chase students with water guns and dance.  There were little children sitting in buckets, grandparents trying to stay off to the side to avoid the color and our students chasing us down to share the fun with buckets.
There was music, both drumming and then from Bollywood movies.  There were two inflatable plastic swimming pools.  There were huge plastic drums filled with water.  There even was a rain shower (yes I know water usually is part of a shower but it was fun to be drenched with "rain water" which we don't have any of right now)!

As you can see, more and more color was added throughout the day. Stained skin, hair and hands.

We noticed this on our drive back to Bandra as color-covered people stood in groups by shuttered shops (most closed today due to holiday and also to protect their wares) and waved at us through the windows.

It was a great first time playing Holi and I've got the orange hair, thanks to Will, to prove it.

Blondie + red powder = Ginger Fringe.
Yes, my ear is still a little blue too.  Photo taken by Deb Thomson,
At school yesterday it was fun to see which adults played and which children laughed when they saw the new color of my bangs.  When I told one third grader my sister has red hair, she laughed and said, now we could be twins.  Too bad the color didn't stick to my skin.  Or maybe that's good.


  1. Fun!!! What about my favorite part ... the bhang?!?!?!? xxx

  2. Saving that for next year's celebration. Can't do it all when you're hosting Ty! Read into that as much as you'd like.